California Lawmakers to Scrutinize New Bullet-Train Plans

By Alison Noon and Julliet Williams : AP : abcnews – excerpt

California lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction Monday with a plan to change the direction of a $64 billion high-speed railway, with one Assemblyman concerned he could travel through Star Trek’s fictional teleportation device before the train would arrive in his district.

Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, said during a joint hearing of the Assembly transportation and select rail committees that he’s frustrated by the train’s delayed timeline. Previous blueprints would have run the first high-speed trains between Merced and the San Fernando Valley by 2022; the latest plan delays that service by seven years.

“It makes me feel like I’m going to be with Captain Kirk on the transporter before I’m going to be on high speed rail,” Gray said.

High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morales apologized to Gray for failing to notify officials in his Merced district of the major change in the business plan to build the rail northbound before going south. Gray encouraged them to tell lawmakers how they can help speed the project.

Lawmakers so far have played only a limited role in high-speed rail…

The new plan calls for building the first 250-mile segment from the rural town of Shafter to San Jose at a cost of nearly $21 billion. The first leg would begin operating in 2025 — three years later and 50 miles shorter than the original planned route that would have sent trains to the San Fernando Valley.

Project backers are touting it as the first plan to build a fully operable line using only available funding. But a briefing prepared for lawmakers ahead of Monday’s meeting notes: “The funding outlined by the authority is far from guaranteed and associated risks remain high.”(more)

This is why we must spend millions on new studies to tear-down 280 and realign the partially electrified rail line into San Francisco? So someone somewhere can demand cash for a questionable future so-called high-speed rail train? Be prepared to ask many questions tonight.



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